2020, a leap year, had the world sway in leaps and bounds, didn’t it? Being bound by the love, security, and support of our family, only made it easier for us to endure the global challenge. The comfort zone of home suddenly became the hotspot of all the action whether we were involved in work-from-home or leisure activities. Well, the proverbial, ‘the family that eats together stays together’ became more pronounced with every family member indulging in lip-smacking snacks to add some zing to the daily routine of household chores and work schedules.
With all the lockdown time to kill, virtual communities revolving around food popped up with online teaching. Many donned their aprons, registered for online sessions, and soon started churning out delectable savories, bakes, desserts, and dishes at home. As for me, baking became my passion and occupied a major part of my day. I enrolled in classes and scrounged the internet for interesting recipes. Soon I was baking the softest and most flavorful sourdough, brioche buns, focaccia, khachapuri, cakes, quiches, and cookies at home. Each time I baked something new, there would be squeals of excitement and a pair of hungry children hovering around their mother. Snack time became special. It was rewarding and extremely satisfying to see the family get together, eat together and laugh together. All our worries were blown away as we shared our stories and chomped on bite-sized portions of heavenly goodness.
I regularly dropped ‘packages of love’ outside the home of friends in the neighborhood. These packages contained some of the finest confections loved by all – tea-time cakes, Oreo cookies, Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolates, homemade bread, muffins, and a packet of Tang. The pandemic restricted us to our home, but it also taught us that despite social distancing and confinement, the heart knew no boundaries and one could connect with the community in small ways. Small boxes filled with snacks were collected every evening at 4 pm from different houses to be given to the homeless and poor. Whether it was grocery shopping for someone who could not go themselves or donating food, the community joined hands in showing its care and support.
The 2020 Mondelēz International’s Second Annual State of Snacking™ Report in conjunction with the Harris Poll stated that snacking was not only therapeutic but fostered a sense of community bond. It reported that during the last six months of the year 2020, 95% of Indians took actions to connect with others whether it was by way of eating a snack or to celebrate a special occasion (55%) or donating food to people (42%).
The Harris Poll, 2020. The Second Annual State of Snacking – India, 2020 Consumer Trends Study, Mondelēz International.
The dire times also made us conscious about eating mindfully and keeping the body nourished. Since the outdoor activity was restricted, people preferred eating small, frequent snacks throughout the day rather than three large meals. Snacks not only boosted mood, offered much-needed relief and excitement; they also created a consciousness of what we consumed.
The State of Snacking report revealed that the average time spent on consuming a snack increased from 21.27 minutes in 2019 to 22.56 minutes in 2020. Healthier options were chosen by people. At our home, air-popped popcorn instead of buttered popcorn, fruits, nuts, bruschetta with vegetable toppings, besan ka chilla, paneer-tikka kathi rolls, baked whole wheat puris instead of fried ones, sourdough sandwiches, grilled vegetables – many healthy hors d’oeuvres satiated the appetite of the family members as their eyes remained glued to Netflix.
The Harris Poll, 2020. The Second Annual State of Snacking – India, 2020 Consumer Trends Study, Mondelez International.
Instead of purchasing from the local grocery store or the ‘pansari ki dukaan’ found in every locality, virtual shopping is how snacking shaped 2020 in India. Not only the millennials at our home but even their septuagenarian grandmother scrolled through online portals to discover new snacks besides placing orders for their trusted brands of biscuits, sweets, and namkeen. Online shopping made everyone realize the goodness of it – incredible convenience, ability to shop 24×7, price comparisons, greater variety selection, no checkout queues or crowds – all factors that contributed to the belief that virtual snack shopping will continue to be a way of life even after the pandemic is over.
We turned to noshing to chase our quarantine blues away. From holding ourselves together to fostering community love and support, surely snacking shaped 2020 in India. Whether it’s picking off the shelves of our local kirana store or ordering from a world of options online, our favourite snacks are at hand. The landscape of snacking has definitely undergone a rapid change recently. India’s surge of snacking is an indicator that it will continue to be an integral part of the ‘new normal’ even after the pandemic ends. It is a habit Indians endorse and it’s here to stay.